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Published On: Tue, Nov 12th, 2013

Texas reports anthrax case in Tom Green County cow

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has recently confirmed a case of anthrax in a cow in Tom Green County, southwest of San Angelo, Texas, according to a news release from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Monday.

Bacillus anthracis gram stain Image/CDC

Bacillus anthracis gram stain
Image/CDC

This case has prompted veterinary officials to remind livestock owners and landowners, that although relatively rare, anthrax is not unheard of in the area.

In early October, the TAHC reported on anthrax in two sable antelopes in Edwards County.

“Anthrax is an ancient disease caused by spore-forming bacteria, Bacillus anthracis, that most often occur in low-lying areas following drought and then subsequent rains, which can expose the spores in the soil to grazing animals,” Josh Blanek, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Tom Green County said.

“Non-vaccinated livestock and deer can become infected by ingesting, and on rare occasions, by inhaling the anthrax spores in the soil and on vegetation while grazing contaminated areas. Such cases are invariably fatal.

“There is usually a history of previous outbreaks in the area, but since years may go by between outbreaks, new landowners or leasees may be unaware of the danger.”

Dr. Floron “Buddy” Faries, AgriLife Extension state veterinarian at College Station, said   rainwater erosion concentrates anthrax spores in the soil in localized areas called “hot spots” in contaminated pastures. Active, infectious spores surface from the soil under dry, dusty conditions. Surface water from fall rains will relocate the spores in the dusty soil and create additional hot spots.  Exposure occurs when an animal happens to graze the vegetation in the hot spot. This restricted exposure to spores limits the number of deaths on the contaminated pasture.

Dr Faries also reminds livestock owners about getting their animals vaccinated against anthrax. “Fall and winter seasons are not correct timing of anthrax vaccination,” Faries said. “Immunity is protective after a few weeks following vaccination. Protective immunity reduces after several months, so annual boosters are necessary. Since anthrax is a summer disease, the correct timing of vaccination is during the spring so animals have protective immunity during the summer season.”

Anthrax is a serious infectious disease caused by gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis.

Domestic and wild animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, antelope, and deer can become infected when they breathe in or ingest spores in contaminated soil, plants, or water.

Although it is rare, people can get sick with anthrax if they come in contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

Contact with anthrax can cause severe illness in both humans and animals.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Anthrax in animals: An interview with Dr. Buddy Faries - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] a follow-up to the report last week of a case of anthrax in a cow in Tom Green County, Texas, I has the opportunity to talk to a real anthrax […]

  2. Texas reports anthrax case in Tom Green County ... says:

    […] The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) has recently confirmed a case of anthrax in a cow in Tom Green County, southwest of San Angelo, Texas, according to a news release from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Monday.  […]

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